I love a good thirty day challenge! In January, I committed to thirty days of yoga… In today’s post, I’ll tell you all about this thirty day yoga journey!
The final month of 2019 is about to commence. A while back, I posted about three mindful ways to end this year. Bathing in gratitude was one of them. Since I happen to love a good thirty day challenge, I decided to dedicate an entire month to practising gratitude. However, instead of solely giving thanks to the people I know and see on a daily basis, I’d also like to spread the gratitude to those I don’t know so well or don’t know at all.
Guess what, I did it! For thirty days I did my thing without a single drink. Now I’ll tell you about some things I’ve noticed during these days of voluntary abstinence.
A while ago, I decided to investigate the habit of drinking alcohol as part of my bigger quest to see life in a different light and, perhaps, making it a little more exciting. Although I don’t regard my drinking habits as problematic, I do often wonder about its impact and the ease with which I embrace alcohol in social settings. As I’m two weeks into my thirty booze-free days, it’s about time for an update, and I can tell you it was not all that easy!
When I set myself a challenge or commence a new adventure, the start is usually the easy part of the process: I dive in headfirst and have tons of energy to go for it! The first days were a breeze. Not a thought was spent on alcohol or these thirty days whatsoever…and then it was Friday. As I was a tad afraid that being around people sipping wine and having a good time would be too much temptation to handle, I resisted the urge to join after work drinks and enjoyed a quiet night in. In fact, that night became a quiet weekend in and that turned out to be precisely what I needed.
While week two started off in a similar fashion, it seemed like I’d gained a bit of confidence making it through the first week. I knew, however the real challenges were yet to be faced. Friday showed its friendly face again, and this week it would feature dinner and drinks with a friend. “Lemonade for you then?” she jokingly said as we sat down somewhere to enjoy the evening and catch up. Still grateful for her ordering a sparkling water as well, the night was fantastic. In hindsight, being pretty exhausted from the week left behind, drinking alcohol would’ve just made me more tired. Fun-wise, the alcohol wouldn’t have added anything!
The day after, I was going to meet up for drinks with two Australian friends who came over to visit Amsterdam. Although super excited to meet them, I remembered all the fun times spent in the pub during the years I lived there, and knew this night could become a confrontational one. I was right. One coke down and the urge to order a beer appeared. My mind instantly started to riot. You can’t give up after half an hour! True, I thought. I can’t just give up when things get a little tough, the fun is in the experience. Just see what happens, I told myself. Just trick that urge.
After an amazing night, one coke and four 0,0% beers we said our goodbyes. As I walked to my bike, I felt extremely happy and a little light in my head.
I’m feeling a little… Wait a minute!
I wake up. With one hand I carefully remove my sleep mask, and try to open my eyes that seem to be glued together as I forgot to remove my mascara the night before. When I finally manage to separate my lashes, the light hits with such intensity that I instantly drop the intention on getting up all together. Whilst hit by a wave of grief when thinking of all the productive and exciting things I could’ve done, I pull the doona over my head and know that the rest of my Saturday will be lost, as I lay in bed dying a little due to a boozy Friyay-eve.
Although this doesn’t happen every week, when it does I wish it hadn’t. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a drink now and then, it’s just that I’ve never been in a social setting, and had a single drink. Even that one time when my friend would stay sober to drive us home after a party, and I was trying to be supportive so I only had one drink… I had a taste of someone else’s cocktail when she went to the toilet (if you’re reading this, just know that I really tried). Point is, after one I know no limits. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
Where am I going with all this?
Glad you’re asking. As I‘ve been on a mission to explore things that make me view the everyday from a different perspective, and perhaps gain some insight into myself and others, it got me thinking about all the habits we’ve adopted, simply, because we think we need them or accept them without questioning. Drinking alcohol is one of those habits. Although I’m perfectly capable to enjoy a single glass of red when I’m reading a book on my couch, as soon as I’m somewhere with people the infinite consumption of alcohol seems totally all right. Until I wake up the next day, and I feel like I’ve been dragged through a sewer pipe.
Reflecting on this situation uncovered a feeling that I wanted this to be different, but before you can change things it’s key to obtain some insight in the situation, habit or thing you want to change… so I started asking myself some questions.:
how often, how much and when do you drink?
Pretty much every weekend includes one of the following:
- Friday drinks at work or with friends
- a (birthday) party
- Saturday arvo catch-ups
- drinks and dances
- reading on the couch with a glass of wine
- post-yoga wine date (it’s a thing)
I do have to point out here, my life knows alcohol free weeks. On weekdays I try not to drink, however, if I go out with a friend for dinner I’ll have a drink or two, same with super sunny late night park hangs… or if I have an unfinished bottle left from the weekend, I might have a cheeky one after work. The total units per week, thus, range from two to ten.
why do you drink alcohol in the first place?
I drink because I like the taste of a good glass of wine with delicious food, to relax after a long day of work, because alcohol is the obvious choice and I like to try all the different G&T’s this bar has, because I’m having a good time and think it’ll be even more fantastic after this cocktail, to appear a little less nervous and more awesome during a date, move like a rock star, celebrate it’s Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday… endless reasons that might not be legit but are, as soon as you’ve finished the first glass.
how does the thought of not drinking make you feel?
I’m in two minds about it. There’s one part of me that is super excited to explore all the happenings, thoughts and feelings that will occur in this period of intentional abstinence. Deep down inside there is another part of me somewhat frightened that the usual social outings featuring alcohol will now turn into something rather awkward or underwhelming. It might be totally different though, guess only time can tell.
can you go without alcohol for thirty days?
As a lot of people before me probably have insightfully mentioned: You can do anything for thirty days. So yes. Damn sure I can. And anyone else too!
Ever thought about losing the booze for a while? Take some time to answer these questions. Be honest though! No matter how shocking your answers might seem to you, you can only start changing things up when you’re aware of the impact it has on you and your life.
Now, when am I going to start this exciting adventure! As September is coming to an end and, internationally, October seems to be THE month to shed all your shitty habits – think OcSober in Australia, Stoptober in the Netherlands and the UK – I reckon it cannot be more obvious… Tomorrow, on the first of October, I won’t touch anything containing alcohol until November commences, and I sure will keep you in the loop about my liquor-less life.
Cheers to that!